Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
It’s getting to crunch time for college teams looking to fill up slots in their 2013 recruiting classes, and one local name whose been heating up as the April signing period opens is Lower Merion forward Yohanny Dalembert.
A 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, Dalembert recently picked up offers from Wagner and Drexel to go along with an offer from Hofstra (whose coach, Joe Mihalich, had offered Dalembert when he was at Niagara). According to Dalembert, James Madison, Memphis and Villanova are all showing interest.
For the first time in his life, Dalembert’s playing AAU basketball this summer; he’ll be playing on the Philly Pride 17U team during the April live recruiting period, when uncommitted seniors are still allowed to play. He’s playing with Lower Merion teammate Raheem Hall along with Father Judge’s Malik Robinson, Martin Luther King’s Raquan Brown-Johnson and Fa’Teem Glenn, and more.
“I liked the team, and of course it’s going to help me with exposure,” Dalembert told CoBL by phone Tuesday evening. “A lot of kids who are trying to show out right now, trying to get exposure, trying to win as many games as we can and play as well as we can together–as a team of course, it’s not all about one person. Overall, we’re a good team, we’re a solid team.”
He made his AAU competition debut last Friday at the Hoop Group’s Spring Jam Fest in Neptune, N.J., where he admitted he was still working on coming back from a postseason illness but was overall happy with his play.
“I think I’ve just got to get used to it,” he said of the multi-game days and quick turnarounds associated with AAU basketball. “Just stay hydrated, eat a lot in between the games, stretch out after…it won’t really be a problem to get adapted.”
Dalembert, the younger brother of former Philadelphia 76er and current Milwaukee Buck Samuel Dalembert, has only been playing the game for a little over two years, so his game is still very much a work in progress. He’s at his best offensively in transition, where he’s a good finisher, and on the defensive end, where he can guard the 3-5 and is an effective shot-blocker and rebounder.
While the focus is obviously to showcase his talents for college coaches, Dalembert has set a goal of getting a double-double in every game. Showing consistent production is a must for some relatively new to the game, and with just two weekends in the April live periods–one in Pittsburgh and one in Philadelphia–there are only so many opportunities to expand his options when it’s decision time in May.
It’s certainly nice having a familiar face on the roster in Hall. Most of the Philly Pride roster hails from in the Public League or Catholic League, while Lower Merion plays out in the Central League.
“We’ve been playing together for a long time and it really helps having Raheem on the team right now, to have someone to talk to when the game’s not going on or to help,” Dalembert said. “He hasn’t played a lot of AAU so we can talk to each other a little about how’s it going and I can help him with college stuff and everything.”
A year ago, Dalembert was a fringe Division I prospect. Now he’s clearly going to get scholarship somewhere. The next 10 days will play a huge part in saying where.